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Swiss gear up for game of their lives

Switzerland and Turkey will be playing for their UEFA EURO 2008™ lives at St. Jakob-Park in Basel later and both must do so without their inspirational captains.

Köbi Kuhn's Switzerland know defeat could end their campaign
Köbi Kuhn's Switzerland know defeat could end their campaign ©Getty Images

Switzerland and Turkey are playing for their UEFA EURO 2008™ lives at St. Jakob-Park on Wednesday and both must do so without their inspirational captains.

Important injuries
The co-hosts were robbed of all-time leading scorer Alexander Frei during the first half of Saturday's 1-0 Group A loss to the Czech Republic and, although he remains with the squad, his knee ligament damage has ended his tournament. Then, as Turkey trained on Monday to recover from the 2-0 defeat by Geneva, midfielder Emre Belözoğlu felt pain in his hamstring; a scan showed a build-up of fluid which rules him out against Switzerland and maybe even for the rest of the group stage.

Frei inspiration
Home coach Köbi Kuhn has had longer to come to terms with the absence of his captain but said the forward's personal presence in the camp is still helpful. "This is an unfortunate situation for him, of course, but he will be a great support for us and he will come back, that is his promise," Kuhn said. Frei's place will most likely go to his weekend replacement Hakan Yakin, Basel-born of Turkish origin.

Swiss wish
Kuhn is well aware that, unless the Czech Republic beat Portugal in the earlier game in Geneva, a second loss would curtail Switzerland's campaign. He said: "You never consider the possibility of a defeat, that is obvious, but we are clearly aware that a defeat would mean that our tournament would consist of just one more match against Portugal and nothing else. That's why we want to win, This is a young team with a future, and that is obvious as well."

Emre blow
Terim is still taking in the news of Emre Belözoğlu's absence. "We are not happy but there is nothing we can do about it. I don't know if he will play in the following match, the medical team don't think so, but they will try," the coach said. "But not having him here is not just a question of having one player out and one player in – the role he plays is not that simple."

Defensive confern
Hamit Altıntop could step out of defence to fill the skipper's midfield role, with Ayhan Akman another candidate. Terim may also be forced to change both starting centre-backs from Saturday: Gökhan Zan is likely to be out with the knee injury suffered during that match while Servet Çetin is awaiting a final examination on a similar problem. Emre Aşık and Emre Güngör are standing by, with Terim hanging on until Wednesday afternoon for a medical report.

Hope from history
Despite all this, Terim – who sent his best wishes both to Frei and to Kuhn's ill wife – is taking heart from history as Turkey bounced back from losing their UEFA EURO 2000™ and 2002 FIFA World Cup openers to progress past the group stage. "Turkey teams have lost their first match in the past and gone through so there is no reason why we cannot do it again," Terim said. "It seems the [UEFA] European Championship will have to start for us with the Switzerland game."